Paddleboarder capsized in storm on Apple Valley lake

John Wareham/News Jonathan Noel, middle, got caught in the middle of a surprise storm in Apple Valley while paddleboarding and got rescued by Drew Tuttle, left, of Centerburg, and Pete Smith of Howard.

HOWARD — A relaxing day on the lake quickly took a turn for the worse on Thursday afternoon. Jonathan Noel of Howard went under the water when his paddleboard capsized on Apple Valley Lake during a sudden torrential rainstorm. Two good Samaritans who were at the beach with their family, Pete Smith of Howard and his brother-in-law, Drew Tuttle of Centerburg, watched Noel and his dog, Thor, go under the water and quickly came to the rescue.

“We just jumped on the boat and raced out there, and we got out to him and he was so exhausted, we threw the raft out to him and he grabbed it but he couldn’t even hold on to it he was so tired,” Smith of Howard said. Shortly after that, Noel went completely under the water. He said at one point it seemed like he was 30 feet underwater, and then everything went black.

Smith jumped in and was able to get Noel onto the boat using a rope Tuttle threw into the water. Once they got Noel to safety, they want back for Thor, who was still treading water. Noel said at one point he threw the dog onto his back to keep him above the water, acting as an “island” for him.

“That little dude was trying so hard to stay alive, he was grabbing at anything he could, and his life jacket didn’t stay on, so I was like, ‘how do I keep him alive, and me alive?’ It went south really fast, and I was done. It was just torrential,” Noel said.

Noel served in Afghanistan as an airborne Army ranger, and compared the near drowning experience to his time overseas. Tuttle credits Noel’s experience as a ranger as what saved his life.

“He fought, anyone else probably would have been under. He was fighting it for a long, long time there, going under and under. He just fought it, he got it,” Tuttle said.

Noel referred to Tuttle and Smith as his heroes, and said he wouldn’t be alive if it wasn’t for their quick thinking and bravery.

“I’m a lucky, lucky dude.”

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Lily Nickel: 740-397-5333 or lily.nickel@mountvernonnews.com and on Twitter, @